The Jeep Wrangler is a range of compact and mid-size 4WD sport utility vehicles. A descendant of the World War II Jeep—then known as the US Army Truck—It was first produced in 1986 and is the successor to the Jeep CJ. It has been a well-received model praised for its unique design, durability, and off-roading ruggedness.
A study by ISeeCars.com shows that the Jeep Wrangler has the slowest value depreciation after five years. In 2009, Business Week hailed it as one of the most iconic cars from the 90s through the 2000s.
While this vehicle series from Jeep is a popular choice for those looking for a reliable SUV, the Wrangler has its share of criticisms. Here are the Jeep Wrangler years to avoid.
2007-2008 Jeep Wrangler (3rd Generation)
Built with off-road ruggedness in mind, the 2007-2008 Jeep Wrangler models feature a V6 engine with a 3.8-liter capacity and a transmission with either four-speed or six-speed options. They put out 202 horsepower and over 321 newton-meters of torque.
The 2007-2008 Jeep Wranglers come in a standard boxy form reminiscent of the CJ. They have a seven-slot grille accent and classic rounded headlights. This model also carries the war-era legacy of removable doors and a foldable windshield.
These model years provide standard front and side airbags as a safety feature. They also have stability control and anti-lock brakes.
However, these model years are also known for a variety of serious issues. There have been ten recalls for the 2007 model and nine for 2008, mostly for defective airbags, which did not deploy as intended. There were also recalls issued for the service brakes, powertrains, trailer hitches, and electrical systems.
2012 Jeep Wrangler (3rd Generation)
Even with a slightly smaller-capacity V6 engine and a 0.2-liter difference compared to the capacity of the models preceding it, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler produces a greater kick at 285 HP and 352 newton-meters of torque. It is available in five-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmission options.
This model continues the Jeep tradition of utilitarian design and signature rounded headlights. The front looks familiar but distinctive with its seven-slot grille. The doors and roof are also removable, and the interior of the vehicle is designed to be water-resistant and washable, making it easy to clean after going through a long drive.
The 2012 Wrangler is regarded as one of Jeep’s most dependable off-roading adventure vehicles. This SUV’s heavy-duty axles and low-range transfer case enable good driving control even in highly-challenging terrains. However, several car enthusiast websites and blogs also deem this model year as the worst one among the rest.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) reports a total of 10 recalls for the 2012 Wrangler. One was issued in 2011 because of a broken electric circuit in the airbag system, which makes it ineffective in protecting the driver during crashes. Several recalls were made in 2013 because of equipment, power train, and steering issues. Another was made in 2014 because of the risk of electric fires, and a few more recalls were issued from 2016 through 2019 because of defective airbags.
2018 Jeep Wrangler (4th Generation)
Released in 2017, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler marks the fourth generation of the popular SUV. It comes in two-door and four-door models, both with fixed and convertible versions. This iteration is a major update for the Wrangler, especially in terms of fuel economy. Its four-cylinder 3.6-liter V6 engine, according to EPA estimates, can deliver 18 mpg for city driving and 23 mpg when running on the highway.
The 2018 model is still unmistakably a Jeep Wrangler with its classic Jeep design. Nevertheless, it comes with a multitude of aesthetic and functional upgrades. For one, the LED lighting used in most of the vehicle’s lights is noticeable. The roof has hard and soft top options. This fourth-gen pioneer model also has improved aerodynamics.
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler is built to ensure impressive performance, especially in challenging terrains, but it is nowhere near perfect. As of February 2023, it has logged the highest number of recalls among Wrangler vehicles. The reasons for the recalls include seats that may detach in a crash, an incorrectly installed park lock rod, crash-risk electrical system issues, steering responsiveness defects, defective latches and locks, and poorly built rooftop tent covers. Three recalls were also issued in 2020, 2021, and 2023 because of overhead clutch components issues that could cause electrical fires.
Common Problems With the Wrangler
Aside from the problems that have led to recalls, Jeep Wrangler users have also complained about several common issues, including noise and fuel efficiency. Some users also say that the vehicle is not comfortable for long drives.
One notable common problem with Wrangler models is the so-called “death wobble,” a defect in the suspension characterized by violent shaking and possible loss of control over the vehicle. This mechanical issue should be addressed promptly as it can lead to accidents and injuries. The affected vehicle should be repaired or replaced by the Jeep dealer.
Another problem they share is a faulty TIPM (Totally Integrated Power Module), which has been associated with the 2007-2015 models. It manifests as the erratic functioning of the windshield wipers and headlights. This problem usually costs up to $1,300 to fix.
There were also several reports of oil leaks, most identified with the 2014 model, due to oil filter housing components that were prone to cracking.
The Jeep Wrangler: An Off-Roading Beast with Some Weaknesses
The Jeep Wrangler has been recognized for its reliability and performance in the off-roading scene. However, some model years come with issues that are too significant to ignore.
Potential buyers should be aware of these issues before purchasing a Wrangler to ensure that they get a vehicle that will provide them with years of trouble-free ownership. By avoiding the problematic model years and knowing proper maintenance, you can enjoy all the off-road adventures this iconic SUV can offer.